Intestate Succession

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Chapter 21 of Title 20 outlines the order in which surviving relatives would inherit from a decedent. If the decedent was married and there is no surviving issue (child) or parent, the entire estate goes to the surviving spouse. If there is a surviving parent, the first $30,000 of the estate along with half of the balance would go to the surviving spouse. The other half of the balance would go to the parent(s). If there is surviving issue or children born to the decedent and the surviving spouse, the spouse gets the first $30,000 and the balance is split between the spouse and the children. If the surviving children are not born to decedent and surviving spouse, the entire estate is split between spouse and children.

If not married at the time of death, the decedent’s estate would pass in the following order: (1) surviving issue of the decedent; (2) parent(s) of the decedent; (3) brothers, sisters or their issue; (4) grandparents (half to paternal and half to maternal); (5) uncles, aunts and their issue; (6) the Commonwealth. The class to which the estate would pass is relevant for inheritance tax purposes. There is no inheritance tax for an estate passing to a spouse. There is a 4.5% tax for estate passing to lineal descendants (e.g. children or parents). There is a 12% tax for siblings and a 15% tax for all other relatives.